Ukrainians suffer in the cold and darkness as the President begs the UN to punish Russia

  • Power outages widespread as Russia attacks power grid
  • US: Russia tries to freeze Ukraine into submission
  • Crews are working to restore electricity and water
  • “We are an unbreakable people,” says President Zelenskiy

WASHINGTON/Kyiv, Nov 24 (Reuters) – Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on the United Nations Security Council to take action against Russia over airstrikes on civilian infrastructure that have plunged Ukrainian cities into darkness and cold yet again as winter sets in.

Russia unleashed rocket fire on Ukraine on Wednesday, killing ten people, shutting down nuclear power plants and cutting off water and electricity supplies in many places.

“Today is only one day, but we received 70 rockets. This is the Russian terror formula. It’s all against our energy infrastructure…Hospitals, schools, transportation, neighborhoods have all suffered,” Zelenskyy said via video link to the City Hall.

Ukraine is waiting for a “very firm response” from the world to Wednesday’s airstrikes, he added.

The Council is unlikely to respond to the appeal as Russia is a veto member.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Russian President Vladimir Putin “clearly armed the winter to inflict immense suffering on the Ukrainian people.”

The Russian president “will try to freeze the country into submission,” she added.

Russia’s UN Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya responded by complaining that it was against Council rules for Zelenskyy to appear via video, dismissing what he called “reckless threats and ultimatums” by Ukraine and its Western backers.

Nebenzya said the damage to Ukraine’s infrastructure was caused by missiles launched by Ukrainian air defense systems after they were fired at Russian missiles, and urged the West to stop supplying Kyiv with air defense missiles.

The capital Kyiv was one of the main targets of the rocket attacks on Wednesday. “Today we had three hits on residential high-rise buildings. Unfortunately, ten people died,” Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky said. Reuters could not independently verify the report.

Explosions echoed throughout Kyiv as Russian missiles slammed in and Ukrainian air defense missiles were launched to intercept them.

“Our little one fell asleep. two years old She slept, she was covered. She’s alive, thank God,” said a man, who gave his name Fyodr, walking away from a smoldering apartment building that was smashed into Kyiv, dragging a suitcase.

The entire Kyiv region, home to over 3 million people, has lost electricity and running water, the governor of Kyiv said. Much of Ukraine suffered similar problems, and some regions instituted emergency power outages to conserve energy and carry out repairs.

Zelenskyy said early Thursday that power and other services would be reconnected in more areas. “Energy specialists, municipal workers, emergency services are on duty around the clock,” he said in a video address.

Since October, Russia has admitted to attacking Ukraine’s civilian power grid far from the front lines, as a Ukrainian counter-offensive has retaken areas from Russian occupiers in the east and south.

Moscow says the aim of its rocket attacks is to weaken Ukraine’s combat capability and urge it to negotiate. Kyiv says the attacks on infrastructure are war crimes deliberately aimed at harming civilians and breaking the national will.

That won’t happen, Zelenskiy vowed in a previous video address published on the Telegram messaging app.

“We will innovate everything and survive everything because we are an unbreakable people,” he said.

THE FIGHT GOES ON

Ground fighting continues to rage in the east, where Russia is pushing an offensive along a sector of front west of the city of Donetsk held by its proxies since 2014.

Ukraine’s General Staff said Russian forces are again trying to make progress on their main targets in the Donetsk region – Bakhmut and Avdiivka. Russian forces shelled both areas and set fire to Ukrainian positions with incendiary devices, the general staff said.

Among those fighting the Russians in Bakhmut is a unit of Chechen fighters who hope a Ukrainian victory could trigger a political crisis in Russia and topple Chechnya’s powerful pro-Moscow leader.

“We don’t just fight for the sake of fighting. We want to achieve freedom and independence for our nations,” said one fighter using the nom de guerre maga.

Farther south, Russian forces dug in on the east bank of the Dnipro River, the general staff said, and shelled areas on the west bank, including the city of Kherson, which was recently recaptured by Ukrainian forces.

Reuters was unable to immediately verify the battlefield accounts.

Moscow says it is conducting a “special military operation” to protect Russian speakers in what Putin calls an artificial state carved out of Russia. Ukraine and the West are calling the invasion an unprovoked land grab.

Western reactions included billions of dollars worth of financial aid and state-of-the-art military equipment for Kyiv, and waves of punitive sanctions against Russia.

Reporting by Simon Lewis and Humeyra Pamuk in Washington, Dan Peleschuk in Kyiv, David Ljunggren in Ottawa and Ronald Popeski in Winnipeg; writing by Cynthia Osterman; Edited by Rosalba O’Brien & Shri Navaratnam

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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